Given all the bad news emanating from the recent COVID-19 outbreak, I thought I would focus on something uplifting and enduring this month, like the Palace of Fine Arts. But first, an image from Craftinga to (hopefully) bring a smile to your face:
Now, back to the Palace of Fine Arts…it was designed by famed architect Bernard Maybeck and conceived as part of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition—and was intended to be demolished when the exposition closed. Unlike its fellow buildings, it has endured.
According to Wikipedia, it has had a most varied history:
- From 1934 to 1942 – a home to 18 lighted tennis courts…
- During World War II – a storage facility for trucks and jeeps…
- After the war – a motor pool for UN statesmen’s limousines (remember the UN was founded in San Francisco)…
- The remainder of the mid-1900s – a telephone book distribution center, a flag and tent storage depot, and a temporary Fire Department headquarters…
- 1969 to 2013 – a home to the Exploratorium.
If you will indulge me for a moment, the Palace was built as a temporary structure for a temporary event. It has not only endured for 100+ years but has been transformed multiple times to better serve the needs of a changing environment: perhaps a lesson for all of us today.
This “urban oasis” is currently managed (very nicely) by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, and has served as a popular backdrop for wedding pictures, for the enjoyment of bikers, strollers, and/or just a wonderful place to “hang”…and will surely continue to serve the community when it is once again safe to gather.
The coronavirus has unsettled our complacency. At the Palace, we can walk by a swan and see her sitting on a nest of eggs, then see them hatch into cygnets (if only to be eaten by a local gang of San Francisco racoons the following night).
My take—we have a better chance of enduring if we continue to adapt and always remain vigilant.
UPDATE: San Francisco activates Palace of Fine Arts as a Temporary Shelter.
Just 4 days after releasing this tribute to the Palace of Fine Arts, I received an update from San Francisco Supervisor and friend Catherine Stefani that announced the Palace will be taking on yet another purpose as it adapts to the COVID-19 crisis–it will act as a temporary homeless shelter for up to 162 people.
Supervisor Stefani has offered her Facebook page as a resource for COVID-19 updates and information.
Coming soon…Bay Area teams compete to rebuild the Transamerica Pyramid. Learn more here!